I am a member of a Historical Collectors Club and we have just had our yearly rally. This club is for anything old. Cars, tractors, steam engines, collectable crockery, knick knacks, even old people such as myself – the list goes on.
A few weeks before the rally, our members gather around and decide what to have for food, where to place certain items and generally tidy up the yard and hall where we hold the rally. There is much activity and this year the blokes put up a new barbeque shed in record time.
There are only 30 members of our club and probably about half of that number help out. The others are kind of silent members. Most clubs have a few members who do not partake in any of the hard work. They turn up for the free meal though.
Several of the women decide what to offer the exhibitors for the Saturday night meal. These exhibitors receive a free meal in exchange for bringing some of their items for the general public to look at. There is also breakfast on offer, for a nominal fee, on the Sunday morning. Camping onsite is free.
The day arrives and it is beautiful: sun shining, no wind, just perfect. Exhibitors are setting up everywhere. There are many wonderful things to look at. A great big steam tractor, numerous steam engines, all shapes and sizes. I myself have a 1914 Waterloo Boy petrol powered hit-and-miss engine. It is a big engine and was used to power the first Dairy in Ballarat. I also have a collection of Austral, Ronaldson Tippet and Southern Cross motors, as well as a 1948 grey Fergie tractor and several vintage cars.
Getting all of these to the rally requires some help which is always forthcoming from other members.
There are Wolesley shearing plants and all manner of cutters used for shearing sheep back in the day. Little steam engines put put around the grounds and some of the bigger ones hiss and cough along all day. Old steam powered milking machines, lots of noisy Bulldog tractors and many different vintage farm machinery.
Inside the hall is an exhibit of old perfume bottles, salt and pepper shakers and various vintage clothing. A lady sits knitting and sells scarves and lots of different knitted items.
Someone brings a small paddle boat and takes people for cruises along the Murray River, which is right next to the site. There are several locals with stalls selling second hand goods. They pay $5 for their site.
We run a small food stall and all day long sell many hamburgers, sausages, pies, dim sims and cakes. A couple from Wedderburn bring their pancake making gear along so there is plenty of good food. The food stall is busy as busy, many locals and a fair few out of towners make frequent trips to sate their hunger.
Saturday night arrives and time for dinner. The ladies, myself included, have been busy cooking for weeks. We cater for around 100 exhibitors and this year had pumpkin soup, three different types of stew, veges, and of course dessert of apricot shortcake and bread and butter pudding.
After we have feasted until bursting at the seams, an undertaker from Castlemaine fires up his band. Yes, a singing undertaker. He sings well. I often wonder if he practices his singing whilst laying out bodies. It is a mind boggling thought.
The oldies join in the singing, the younger ones look about wondering at the singing and why some of us tap our feet and smile with delight at music that actually has lyrics that can be understood. All too soon it is midnight and time to turn in.
Tomorrow will be just as hectic and instead of a nice meal there will be a long drive home for many. It is all good though and everyone, plus some, turn up again the following year.